According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 17% of working Americans are employed by the public sector. Here on Govloop, we all know what makes us different than private sector employees, but what does the research say?
A look at the available research revealed 7 surprising (and not so surprising!) ways that government employees are unique from our private sector counterparts:
1) We’re more educated
Public sector employees are 18.4% more likely to have an advanced degree than our private sector counterparts. This is likely due to the more specialized nature of public sector jobs vs private sector jobs, but I also like to attribute it to our overall motivation and passion!
2) …. But the more educated we get, the less we are compensated compared to our private-sector counterparts
According to the Congressional Budget Office, (federal) government employees have higher total compensation than private sector employees at all levels of education with the exception of doctorate and professional degrees. This research took into account total compensation, not just wages, and illustrated that as education increases, the wage gap between federal and private sector workers decreased. For example, for those without a bachelors degree, the pay gap was large (government employees’ total compensation was over 10% more), but once a federal employee gets a masters degree, compensation becomes roughly equivalent and then decreases compared to private industry for PhD’s and those with professional degrees.
3) We’re more likely to vote
Several studies, such as this one have shown that government employees have significantly higher voter turnout than private sector employees. Whether this is because we are more civic-minded, more educated, have more flexible schedules or have a vested economic interest in the outcome of the election is up for debate, but either way, public sector employees are actively participating in the democratic process at a higher rate, and no matter your political affiliation, that’s fantastic!
4)… for Democrats
According to Gallup, public sector employees are far more likely vote for Democratic Party candidates than private sector employees (depending on whether they are state, federal, union or non-union, the percentage ranges between 9-20%). Although, surprisingly, COLA pay has increased most for federal employees when Republicans are in office (although there are many factors involved here, including the rate of inflation, economic growth and action by congress).
5) We’re more diverse
The public sector workforce is more diverse than the private sector. The public sector employs a higher percentage of minorities, women and people with disabilities than the private sector does and this percentage is ever-increasing. We all benefit from this, as differing backgrounds and perspectives spark innovation.
6) We are more likely to have poor job satisfaction than our private sector counterparts
According to the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government,” public sector employees are 13% less satisfied than our private sector counterparts. Most of the complaints regarded issues with management, recognition and colleague cooperation, which won’t surprise many of us.
7) but we LOVE what we do
Fear not, public sector worker, there’s a bright side to those dismal poll numbers. On the question “Do you like the kind of work you do?” we scored higher than our private sector counterparts.
This is where you government innovators come in – clearly, government employees love what they do but are still dissatisfied, how can we re-structure management and performance evaluation/recognition to achieve greater job satisfaction? Sounds like a topic for another blog post!
What do you think about these results? Post your thoughts below (but don’t kill the messenger!).
Samantha McCormick is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.